Hotel & Méson options for climbers

At the bottom of the photo is the hotel with road in front.

At the bottom of the photo (with road in front) is the hotel .

As part of our brief stay in Spain, we wanted to check out Albarracin,  a fortress village along the Guadalaviar River in the Sierra de Albarracín Mountains in the Aragon region. With 4.5 days there as a stopover/recon trip on our way from Madrid to France, we decided to hotel it and eat out most nights; that included 3 nights at the Hotel el Gallo, 1 night at the hotel Parada del Carmen, and twice dinner at the downstairs restaurant Méson del Gallo. Both the Hotel el Gallo and downstairs restaurant Méson del Gallo cater to climbers in different ways. The hotel itself has special climbers’ rooms, and has a communal kitchen for cooking meals, and the restaurant Mesón del Gallo offers discounts on pizzas (30% off from sunday to thursday for climbers), and if you’re a guest of the hotel, you get one free bottle of Lambrusco or Muscato (or at least we did). The climbers’ rooms are only through talking/emailing directly to ask for them. We don’t know if they are the same as their regular price “back” rooms that go at 29-39€/double (low-high season). We haven’t yet spent time in the climber’s rooms, but plan to do this in May as we make our return to madrid via Albarracín. They are 25€/double (smaller and no view but offered during their high season) and 1€/day/person for kitchen use. For us that comes out to 27€/day instead of the 39-45€/double/day (low-high season).

Méson del Gallo chef and co-owner, Guiseppe, in his restaurant.

Méson del Gallo chef and co-owner, Guiseppe, in his restaurant.

The chef/owner of the restaurant Mesón del Gallo is Guiseppe, an Italian from Verona where he had a pizzeria. He later moved to Barcelona, again running a pizzeria. He felt the city was a bit too busy and hectic, so while on a trip with his wife, Isabel, to Albarracin they fell in love with the place. The third pizzeria he’s opened is the Mesón del Gallo, on the ground floor of the Hotel el Gallo, Albarracin. The Mesón has a full restaurant menu, but his specialty is the pizzas, and it shows.

Our Tiramisu. I have no knowledge of what makes a good Tiramisu. This one tasked good. Light and not oily or caky.

Our Tiramisu. I have no knowledge of what makes a good Tiramisu. This one tasted delicious. Light and not oily or caky.

At the Mesón del Gallo, their pizzas are all thin crust, as that is traditional Italian. The flavor is unique because Guiseppe uses local cheeses and meats and euphemistically calls it “fusion,” a blending of local and Italian character. If you prefer a bit of spice, he also offers an olive oil with marinating small red peppers. It’s uniquely hot and tasty, and nothing like the typical red pepper flakes available at takeouts back in the states. Since I’m not a restaurant critic, all I can say is that the experience was excellent and the food very good. We had a salad before the pizza both times we ate there, and it easily accommodated 2 persons. Splitting a pizza between us was plenty, but we saw others that ate an entire pizza themselves. He also offers pizzas to go, and unlike in the states, if you have wine with your meal and don’t finish it, you can take it with you.

They served them halved for each of us.

They served them halved for each of us because we shared one.

The pizza comes as one giant unit. You have to cut it yourself, except for the photo example. Oh, on a side note about restaurant-going in Europe, it’s more normal to keep your hands on the table then under the table. In the states, many are taught to keep their hands down unless eating. I find resting on my forearms is best, but I find my hands drifting down to my lap not unusual; I also find that my climber’s shoulders make me want to sit curled up, hunched forward, forearms in lap with hands drifting down opposite sides, sitting tucked feet, crossed under the chair or extended. That puts my face in the main course. Hmmm. I need to SIT up and be normal! That’s hard! A good arch in the upper back to pretend I actually do this on a regular basis. I must behave like a civilized human, not a pad squatter between sets, and even reps.

The address for both the hotel and restaurant is 1 Calle Los Puentes, and you’d think it’s at the start of a street but not. When you enter the main part of town, there’s a left turn that crosses a small river, though the river may not be so obvious. Continuing forward will bring you to another left turn that has the No Entry sign posted (red circle with a white bar through the center) and past it is an obvious tunnel. This street is only for residents’ cars as it snakes it way through and to the top of the old castle village.

this is the only shot I have of the residence only road left. If one were to continue right, across the corner of the image, they would head into the tunnel, not visible but right of the photo.

this is the only shot I have of the residents-only road left (shot from the room’s micro-balcony). If one were to continue right, across the corner of the image, they would head into the tunnel, not visible but right of the photo.

If you want to access the picturesque castle area, there are stairs just to the right of the No Entry street (barely visible in above photo at right edge). Just before the tunnel and the no entry left turn, on the right side of the road, is the hotel with a small sign posted high up. It’s easy to miss at night as it’s not lit nor does your headlights light it up, as I recall. Opposite the hotel is a sunken parking and park/playground area. If you take the first left turn that I mentioned earlier, you will drive into another part where residents live. Continuing down this road eventually takes you to the bouldering where you’ll pass a roundabout (stay straight through it). Back at that first left turn intersection, on the far left side, is the visitors center where a staff member speaks english. I don’t know if she speaks any other languages, Spanish aside. Opposite the left turn is the Cafe del Barrio and a bar just to the left where climbers might hang out. A spaniard told us they were going to have a beer there after climbing, “Spanish rules,” he articulated.

On the first night we were there, Monday, the town was pretty empty, as the tourist season isn’t yet upon us. We think this might be why they have so many climber’s specials during the winter, and everyone seems really welcoming to visiting climbers. Climbers, it seems, are the next best thing to tourists that haven’t arrived. Monday is also the one night that some of the food places might be closed. Restaurants don’t open until 8:30pm, as we discovered this the hard way. Being used to the tiny villages around Fontainebleau where everything closes in the early evening, we rushed into town after climbing, bought some food at the Supermercado before they closed at 8pm then went looking to find a place to eat. Everywhere was closed. We found the bar at the Hotel Arabia open and went in thinking it might be a restaurant. We were told it was not, but that on Mondays at least the Mesón del Gallo and the Boccatario/Resaurant el Pinõn are usually open for dinner… after 8:30pm. We then realized why the town was so dead and nothing was open; instead of being too late for dinner, we were too early!

 

On the walkup viewing the courtyard overlook  from below.

On the walk up viewing the courtyard overlook from below.

The city's many side streets and alleys, as they wind their way up the terraced town center.

The city’s many side streets and alleys, as they wind their way up the terraced town center.

Regarding the Hotel el Gallo, the owner is Sara Heranz Mallén. Her wonderful attitude and hard work ethos made us feel content. She doesn’t speak any English, but she was very patient with Jill’s extremely rusty Spanish, and if you’re truly desperate and having a hard time communicating, she can get in touch with her son who speaks english well. While I was sick, she was quick to offer any additional supplies as necessary. On the down side, if you are taking a shower, at least in room 104, the hot water changes drastically depending on others taking a shower, but the rooms are very clean, very well appointed, beautifully decorated and finished given the out-of-season cost of 35€/night. Like I said earlier, they also offer climbers rooms at a greater discount. Internet is good but not consistent. We couldn’t tell if it was bandwidth or spotty router service, but Jill’s 2007 macbook (os 10.6) faired better than my 2011 macbook air (os 10.9), lame Mr. Apple! The signal strength was good, at least in room 104, which when viewed from outside is the second floor far left side of the hotel. The room narrows following the contours of the building.

Hotel side wall. Left is toward the tunnel and south.

Hotel side wall. Left is toward the tunnel and south.

Camping is possible across the bouldering area, but only in vehicles. Tents aren’t allowed. You can tent camp in the campground conveniently located near the edge of town, but the campground doesn’t open until March; otherwise, it’s vehicle camping only. Also, all climbing stops at sunset. No night climbing. Here are more city shots:

An Albarracin street merger.

An Albarracin street merger.

Random city wall.

Random city wall.

View from the top with the cathedral in background on right and our last night hotel stay on the left upstairs.

View from the top with the cathedral in background on right and our last night hotel stay on the left upstairs.

...and it's a nice walk back to the room; I think the highest place with a room.

…and it’s a nice walk back to the room; I think the highest place in town with a room.

We didn't walk the walls or anything, but here is a closeup of one wall.

We didn’t walk the walls or anything, as we had limited time, but here is a closeup of one wall.

Pretty neat narrow streets. As a whole, the town has been inhabited since the 12th century.

Pretty neat narrow streets. As a whole, the town has been inhabited since the 12th century.

Albarracín is named after the Berber clan Al Banū Razín and became a sprawling fortress during muslim domination in the region from the 10th to the 12th century CE. Romans founded towns in the 2nd century BCE. Wikipedia is very weak on muslim history for Albarracín, and what little they do have is here, not worth it.

Corner of the main plaza that overlooks down canyon.

Corner of the main plaza that overlooks down canyon.

View of the main plaza at night.

View of the main plaza at night.

The architecture has a more organic nature to it.

The architecture has a more organic nature to it.

...and viewed up towards the roofs.

…and viewed up towards the roofs.

This is the room for our 4th night in Albarracin.

This is the room for our 4th night in Albarracin.

...and the view out the bathroom/water closet.

…and the view out the bathroom/water closet.

 

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~ by r. mulligan on 2014/03/27.

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